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Gil French
American Record Guide, March 2019

The orchestrations are so terrific that even Alsop loosens up here and gets in the mood. My favorite three (played back to back) are for composer William Schuman, Stephen Sondheim (with whom Lenny wrote West Side Story), and Bernstein’s daughter Nina.

On the other album, Alsop is exceptionally hot in the Mambo from West Side Story and Slava! A Political Overture. This is the world premiere recording of CBS Music, five short pieces Bernstein wrote for a 9-1/2 hour broadcast in 1957 celebrating the 50th anniversary of CBS, which broadcast his Young People’s Concerts and whose Columbia label made so many of his New York Philharmonic recordings. Three arrangers created a suite out of the five pieces, all of which are based on a motif from the three notes C, B-flat (B in German), and E-flat (Es in German). It’s a seven-minute piece of fluff but very nicely played, thanks to Alsop.

The recordings are very balanced, with good inner details. © 2019 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide

James H North
Fanfare, January 2019

BERNSTEIN, L.: 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue Suite / Slava! / CBS Music / A Bernstein Birthday Bouquet (São Paulo Symphony, Alsop) 8.559813
BERNSTEIN, L.: Anniversaries / Fancy Free Suite / Candide Overture / Wonderful Town Overture (São Paulo Symphony, Alsop) 8.559814

Alsop and her São Paulo forces seem ideal.

Charlie Harmon’s symphonic arrangement of the Overture to Wonderful Town is smooth as silk, ready for its Hollywood close-up.

Each of these discs is a keeper, one for Kirchner, one for Bernstein. © 2019 Fanfare Read complete review

Kevin Filipski
The Flip Side, December 2018

These two new discs were released on the tail end of the centenary of Bernstein’s birth, as the musical polymath has been feted around the world. Both CDs are conducted by Marin Alsop, a protégée of the conductor-composer-teacher-writer-raconteur, and feature world premiere recordings of some of his more obscure works. The first disc, along with the frothy overtures to Candide and Wonderful Town, includes the brilliant ballet Fancy Free and the first recording of the orchestrated versions of his pungent piano pieces, Anniversaries. The second disc, alongside bits from West Side Story and On the Town, features a suite from his failed Broadway musical about the presidency, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, the rarely-heard CBS Music and the delightful Bernstein Birthday Bouquet, where eight composers wrote tongue-in-cheek tributes for Lenny’s 70th birthday in 1988. © 2018 The Flip Side

David Gutman
Gramophone, December 2018

BERNSTEIN, L.: 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue Suite / Slava! / CBS Music / A Bernstein Birthday Bouquet (São Paulo Symphony, Alsop) 8.559813
BERNSTEIN, L.: Anniversaries / Fancy Free Suite / Candide Overture / Wonderful Town Overture (São Paulo Symphony, Alsop) 8.559814

The orchestra is the São Paulo Symphony, where Alsop remains at the helm for another year. Touching photographic reminders of her association with the ageing composer-conductor adorn each collection. Where comparisons exist, Alsop is neater than the man himself. She knows how to swing but never overeggs the pudding. © 2018 Gramophone Read complete review on Gramophone

Nick Barnard
MusicWeb International, November 2018

…The orchestra is well balanced and has exactly the kind of bite and presence this music needs. The detailing of the scoring registers well which in the Anniversaries is a repeated joy. For that work alone this is a must-buy for admirers of Bernstein the composer. As for the rest Alsop is a faithful and dedicated interpreter… © 2018 MusicWeb International Read complete review

Remy Franck
Pizzicato, November 2018

Brilliant performances of the overtures for Wonderful Town and Candide, a playful and at the same time sensual ‘Fancy Free’ version are the successful part of this release. © 2018 Pizzicato Read complete review

Records International, November 2018

Published in 1944, 1948, 1964 and 1989, the 29 piano Anniversaries were written for friends, family members, intimate acquaintances, colleagues and loved ones. Orchestrator Sunderland heard the pieces in their entirety at a private concert in 2016, and “was transfixed by the way these works distilled the essence of Bernstein’s music into 10 fingers and 88 keys.” In making his selection of 11 pieces (lasting a bit over 15 minutes here), Sunderland was guided, in part, by a desire to avoid music the composer had already repurposed, and to choose “Anniversaries with the greatest potential to be scaled-up—those with either the longest, most singing lines, the punchiest approach to color, the most interesting interplay of counterpoint.” © 2018 Records International

David Hurwitz, November 2018

Marin Alsop plays Bernstein as well as Bernstein, and there can be no higher compliment than that. © 2018 Read complete review

iClassical, October 2018

The best known pieces on this disc are the Candide Overture and the Fancy Free Suite and they are each splendidly performed by the members of the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra under their music director, Marin Alsop. The ever-popular Candide Overture is given an unhurried, bright and alert performance. In the Fancy Free Suite the jazz influence is much in evidence. The work is divided into seven scenes with a central Pas de Deux and Alsop et al successfully conjure up the downtown atmosphere of urban New York most effectively in this top notch account. © 2018 iClassical Read complete review

David Denton
David's Review Corner, October 2018

Released to mark the centenary of Leonard Bernstein’s birth, his conducting pupil, Marin Alsop, continues her cycle of his orchestral works with the ballet, Fancy Free. It tells of the story of three sailors coming on shore leave looking for female company, the score written in seven scenes captures the sleazy world of the dockside, the young men fighting over the two girls they find, before moving on to look for new conquests. It is immaculately scored for a small ballet orchestra, with a major role for keyboard, the mood and style a precursor of West Side Story that came thirteen years later. The other extended work on the disc is a world premier recording of a new orchestration by Garth Edwin Sunderland of the piano score, Anniversaries, a series of cameo pieces written over a number of years and suitable in celebrating anniversaries or marking the deaths of eleven of his close friends. Also using a small orchestra and with an important part for piano, it has all the orchestral fingerprints of Bernstein. The disc is completed by two overtures to the musicals, Candide—a failure in its early days—and Wonderful Town a musical that ran on Broadway for two and a half years. The two share a similarity in their vibrancy that is perfectly captured by Alsop. The Sao Paulo Symphony are in good form and ideally portray Fancy Free in tempos that would delight dancers. Reliable sound quality, much recommended. © 2018 David’s Review Corner

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